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January 26, 2010
Kevin Coburn, Director of Communications

Green Mountain College Professor Receives
Fulbright Grant

POULTNEY, VT--Thousands of years before the rise of the Incan Empire, an ancient people living along the Chilean coast took elaborate measures to mummify their dead. Entombed in the driest climate in the world, the Chinchorro mummies have survived the ages are now the focus of intense scholarship.

Among the questions: where did these shore dwellers obtain the clay and manganese used in the creation of their striking burial masks? John Van Hoesen, associate professor of geology and environmental studies at Green Mountain College, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to explore these mysteries. His work may answer questions about the behavior and migration patterns of the Chinchorro people who developed mummification techniques about 3,000 years before the Egyptians.

"There is no manganese for approximately 60 kilometers beyond the burial sites, and most archeologists think the Chinchorro people didn't travel beyond 40 kilometers," he said. "Also, the source of the clay used to create the masks has not been discovered. This suggests that they moved beyond the 40 kilometer range to find these materials-or the original sources have since been buried or exhausted."

Van Hoesen will collaborate with Dr. Bernardo Arriaza, the Instituto de Alta Investigación, Universidad de Tarapacá and the San Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum to conduct research aimed at determining the extent of Chinchorro migration. During his stay in Chile scheduled for the spring of 2011, Van Housen will teach a course on GIS and involve students in his field research. He will also hold skill-based workshops at the Instituto de Alta Investigación focused on identifying and characterizing soil constituents using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS).

Van Hoesen becomes the fourth current faculty member at Green Mountain College to receive a Fulbright grant.

The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.


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